Demerara, but what’s the style?

If the label says Guyana, Demerara or Diamond Distillery, that could be about anything. While there’s only one distillery left in the country, they are able to produce an immense range of different styles with several vastly different stills. Alas, you often times don’t know what you get. Sometimes we can tell from the date of distillation and prior knowledge but other times that just doesn’t work. So here we will deal with the latter and give some educated, or rather wild, guesses on the still and/ or style.

guya1 (2)Arnisser No. 5 Guyana 2010 5YO (65,5%): An extremely young Guyanese rum at cask strength. While that doesn’t get me excited, it is also something that we do not get very often. Nose: Very simple and straightforward but quite intense thanks to the high abv. I get plenty of vanilla (has to be the distillate) and other, more spicy spices, hints of chilli (well, actually more and more of it), some leather and wood (also the distillate!?) and after a while also very vaguely wild herbs. Not too shabby for such a young and affordable rum. Palate: The alcohol is quite present of course but we get an extremely creamy texture that basically makes up for it. I get vanilla, burnt sugar, pepper, leather, liquorice, some of the chilli again and actually quite some wood. This kinda makes me think Enmore… It is not heavy and distinct enough for either of the wooden pot stills but too characteristic and woody for the metal column stills. Finish: Short and dry with spices and wood. The rum is not particularly interesting but it isn’t too bad either. But what is it? Column still and I am guessing Enmore. It has some of its characteristics, even though I may not have mentioned them explicitly. All in all it isn’t bad considering how young it is. Maybe it is a vintage to look out for, who knows. thumb-60x60 (75/100)

guya2 (2)Scottish Independent Distillers Demerara 2009 7YO (44%): The Scottish Independent Distillers Company is a subcompany of Ian Macleod, who own brands such as Glengoyne, Tamdhu or Chieftain’s. The nose is slightly mossy with notes of molasses, bamboo, old furniture, extremely dark caramel and soy sprouts. It’s very Enmore-esque I must say. The palate starts with similar flavours. Dusty tea leaves (gunpowder), bamboo and old wood, the soy sprouts from the nose, more smoky notes and treacle and liquorice. Quite smooth at this age and abv and the mouthfeel is not too thin. With the second and third sip I also get a few sweeter and slightly citrussy elements. The latter translate nicely to the palate, where I can also find some of the treacle and woody notes again. Pretty sure this is Enmore. A solid rum all in all, just do not expect too much. At this price you cannot go wrong. thumb-60x60 (77/100)

guya3 (2)Anam na h-Alba Guyana 2007/8 10YO (66,6%): Where do we start here!? Anam na h-Alba is a well established Whisky bottler that basically never disappoints. Now they started getting into rum with this bottling and a 13 year old Foursquare. The vintage is unknown (why????) but given that it has been bottled in 2018 it had to be distilled in 2007/8. The abv is diabolical, as is the unnatural colour of the rum, but here we shouldn’t blame the bottler. I’d describe the nose as dirty with plenty of liquorice, molasses, caoutchouc and mud but also strawberry, honey and walnut oil. Let’s take a sip. I get lots of wood, maple and corn syrup, molasses, walnut oil, extremely bitter oranges, more wood (this has to be from both, the distillate and the barrel), spices such as pepper or cloves, burnt caramel and liquorice. The rum is exceedingly bitter and, and rather complex but not well-balanced. The major downside however is that the more lovely notes seem to vanish rather quickly. Finish: Medium long, woody, bitter and not too interesting. Wood, walnuts and roasted coffee are my main associations. With this one I am guessing Diamond in the tradition of the 2003 batch. I have a like/ hate relationship with this one. There are many elements I enjoy, but other parts just seem to destroy them. thumb-60x60 (73/100)

guya4 (2)Origin R Guyana (28 month Port Cask) 2007 11YO (50%): First of all my apologies for not finding the correct label for this one. But it is an interesting rum for multiple reasons. This is the first and so far only Demerara I know from the 2007 vintage (since the time of writing, some more did appear). Second, Port finishes with Guyanese rums are extremely rare and I have a hard time thinking of one. What is more, the bottler had some very unique bottlings in the past, i.e. vintages which you did not easily find with other bottlers. Colour: Very rosé. Nose: Quite alcoholic, more so than we would like at this age and abv. The fortified wine is present but I was expecting an even bigger influence but then again I cannot find much of the distillate. I get some spices and wood in the background, some liquorice and caoutchouc as well as other related botanical notes. The palate makes much more sense to me than the nose as the elements now finally get together. Once again, we get a combination of the fortified wine (raspberry, sweet plums and mixed syrup) and distillate (spices, liquorice and caoutchouc). Going back to the nose it is still this unharmonious, rather alcoholic nonsense (ok, that’s really harsh) but the palate is rather nice. The distillate is certainly suitable for this kind of finish and I am relatively sure that this is some light Port Mourant (PM). Finish: Spices as you indeed know them from PM and now plenty of wet wood as well. Yup, the finish definitely strengthens my assertion. It’s a good rum in the end, if it weren’t for the nose. The profile might be a tad too sweet but if that’s what you are looking for with your PM this one might be a rum for you. (82/100)

guya5 (2)Cadenhead’s Green Label Guyana (early 2000s) 10YO (46%): As stupid as it sounds but this is pale so that might already narrow it down a bit. Nose: Quite alcoholic and rather neutral with vanilla, hints of waxes and some mineral tunes. Now it is definitely a column-still distillate and I think we can already safely say a rather bad one. I don’t think I would have recognised this as a Guyanese rum in a blind tasting. Now pepper perhaps but there really isn’t much to this rum. Palate: What I just said. Lots of vanilla and some spices such as cloves or pepper, slightly mineral notes as well as some oak. As much as I’d love to go on, the rum doesn’t offer enough to do so. It is not as sharp as I feared but that’s about it. Finish: Short to medium long and rather dry. I am now getting more oak accompanied by the familiar spices. Well, just no. So it isn’t pot still and neither is it Enmore. If I had to guess I’d say Uitvlugt since this has some similarities with the extremely boring 1998 Uitvlugt but I really cannot say. It’s one to forget about. thumb-60x60 (62/100)

guya6 (2)Rum Artesanal Diamond 1998 20YO (52%): Diamond 1998, that can only be the Diamond still you may think!? And indeed, I am thinking the same but given more releases from this batch some have claimed that this is actually Enmore. Let’s see. Nose: Very fruity and candy-like with some perfumed notes. A rather unusual Demerara rum and initially I don’t really know what this is. Then candied fruits such as peaches or grapefruit, orange bitters, clearly also candied ginger and deeper in the glass quite some wood and dried spices which I’d attribute to the cask. A weirdo and one I most likely would not have put to Guyana blindly. Palate: Really sweet with the candied fruits and different spices such as cloves, vanilla, nutmeg or even cinnamon. This isn’t the usual Demerara-spiciness though as the sweet and candied fruits still dominate the profile. Behind that lures a slightly herbal note as well, considerably close to lovage or heather. The finish is medium long and comes with oak, candied ginger and the herbal notes, perhaps also some nutty notes. So it is clearly a column still distillate and for Enmore I am missing some of the characteristic woody notes. That said, I have no reason not to believe that this comes from the Diamond still. The rum is so-so. thumb-60x60 (78/100)

and last but not least let’s have a cask sample from Diamond’s new pot still…

WhatsApp Image 2019-07-14 at 18.41.58(4).jpegCask Sample Diamond Distillery “DHE” 5YO (65%): So we know the style, after all DHE stands for Diamond High Ester, but we have yet to try it. Anyway, I think the DHE pot still has been commissioned around 2010-2013 and they try to mimic high ester Jamaican rums with it. This one aged for five years in Guyana. Nose: Indeed this is very Jamaican with overripe banana, nail polish, hints of marzipan, grilled pineapple, papaya and already a good amount of oak and vanilla from the cask. I must say that it smells rather nice and if (and only if) you are actively looking for it you can also find some (just some) of the typical Guyanese spiciness (cinnamon and pepper). Palate: Esters galore! High ester is no understatement. It has all the overripe fruit components you associate with these kind of rums but also the sweeter notes of marzipan or pastries we got to know from the tropical aged Hampdens. It is still a bit sharp and you can only take small sips but I guess that this is intended to be “only” a blending component anyway. But it doesn’t have to be. There is definitely a market for rums like this. Finish: Long and loaded with sweet pastries, vanilla and grilled pineapple. Nice! When I’ve tried it for the first time I didn’t really like it as it was way to sharp and boozy for my liking. Today that’s totally different and I am really enjoying my wee dram. I’d say give it another two to three years in the tropics and this will be an excellent rum! (no score)

Sessions like these might not always be the most exciting ones but they are important. They train the nose and palate, give you a glimpse of different vintages and styles and might reveal a gem that has been flying under the radar.